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Since the coronavirus outbreak began, BME department’s interim chair and William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor Paul Dayton has been coordinating BME teams to collaborate and solve COVID-19-related problems. One such group is the Carolina Respiratory Emergency – Ventilator (CaRE-Vent) team led by Dr. Yueh Lee, an associate professor of radiology in the UNC School of Medicine. His research team is prototyping an open-source emergency ventilator for COVID-19 patients.

Lee’s team didn’t start from scratch. The new prototype was inspired by a device designed over a decade ago by Dr. Richard Feins, a retired professor who led the UNC School of Medicine’s Cardiothoracic Simulation Lab. “We’ve had this unit for quite a while sitting in the lab,” said Lee, “We knew we already had a prototype that could ventilate a lung and said, ‘Why don’t we start from there?’.”

BME faculty and students from both UNC and NC State are collaborating and joining their expertise to design this ventilator. UNC BME students include undergraduate Kathlyne Bautista and graduate students Sang Chung and Thomas Kierski. They are all embracing the project as a chance to get hands-on training with their faculty mentors on an urgent, real-world project. “I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to potentially save lives. As an engineer, it’s what you are training for,” said Bautista.

Other schools and departments, including the UNC School of Medicine and NC State Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, have joined the effort, along with UNC Health and multiple industry partners, including Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions headquartered in Research Triangle Park and ShopBot Tools headquartered in Durham. To read the full story, visit UNC news website here.


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